Science and Religion Clash in Informed Consent; Inspired by True Events

News   Science and Religion Clash in Informed Consent; Inspired by True Events
 
For her latest work, playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer was inspired by the real-life landmark case involving the Havasupai Tribe of the Grand Canyon and Arizona State University, in which scientists used their blood samples to investigate areas other than what was approved. She explores this complex union of science and culture in Informed Consent, premiering next month Off-Broadway.

Presented by Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theatre, and beginning previews Aug. 4 at the Duke on 42nd Street, Informed Consent follows scientist Jillian, played by Tina Benko (Irena's Vow, Top Girls) on her study of an unusually high diabetes rate among a tribe of Native Americans. As in the real-life case, her research opens up the possibility of major discoveries in other areas such as cancer, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, however these have not been approved by the tribe, for which blood is sacred.

The play examines many of the challenges facing scientists today, namely, the intersection of science and religion, as well as the blurred ethical lines of genetic research. As part of her research, Laufer spent time in a genetics lab extracting DNA from cells and also travelled to the Grand Canyon.

"I hope that the play represents both the scientist and the tribe members who took part in the study with depth – real, multifaceted people with personal concerns outside these issues, that informed what they brought to this case," said Laufer in a press statement.

Liesl Tommy directs a cast that also features Pun Bandhu, Jesse J. Perez, DeLanna Studi and Myra Lucretia Taylor. An official opening night is set for Aug. 18.

The production will feature scenic design by Wilson Chin, costume design by Jacob A. Climer, lighting design by Matthew Richards, original music and sound design by Broken Chord, projection design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting. Tickets are $70 and can be purchased online at PrimaryStages.org or at Dukeon42.org, by phone at (646) 223-3010, or at the box office.

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